Sunday, 26 November 2017

Seeing the hairy light

Morning all,

After a mild week it has turned a bit wintery with a bitter northerly wind today. Luckily for us it shouldn’t dent sales too much as we tend to go very quiet over these late weeks. We often earn more from the turbines at this time than from plant sales. The winter months are the peak wind speed times, on average, although this month will be quite a bit less than normal October was good so I am not complaining.
We are getting well stuck into the winter jobs list with pot mulching nearly complete and several new drains dug, laid and dressed. Unfortunately we can’t get a digger in the gaps so there is a lot of physical effort in the hand digging of the drains between the tunnels and I reckon it will take a few winters to finish but all the benefits will be there eventually. We are concentrating first on those sites that flood worst during the heavier rain storms, as the water sheds from the upper tunnels into the lower ones. They will keep the tunnels drier and cleaner, reducing potential winter losses and bed cleaning between crops and give us an opportunity to collect some more water. The ground cover materials used to line and hold down the drainage pipe should also eliminate weed growth between the tunnels and reduce the herbicide used and weed spread onto the crops. Having completed a couple of the worst offenders we are almost looking forward to the next downpour just to see them work, there is just a smidgen of apprehension that all our levels are right and that it all runs away. We’ll see.
Last week I promised to reveal some exciting geological/archaeological revelations as discovered on our Cornish holiday. This was something that brewed over a couple of days after walks that included investigation and discussion on the significance of the amount of quartz found on many sites from prehistory onwards. Having seen a quartz rock placed under a very large propped boulder (believed to be Neolithic) it was mooted that perhaps there was something we were missing in the significance of quartz, does it has some special properties? We knew vaguely about the use of quartz in electrical items (watches etc) and there was some speculation from our very clever tame archaeologist that it may produce light when put under pressure. We collected a few lumps of quartz pebble from the beach and returned to base to await darkness to try out a few tests. After we returned from a very jolly evening out we despatched Brian into the garden with two big lumps of quartz and turned off all the lights. After waiting a while, until our eyes became adjusted to the dark, he started bashing one against the other and sure enough we saw flashes of light, not sparks really, more of a brief glow. Unfortunately it was not the greatest of shows as the main effect of impact was a shattering of the rocks with bits flying off all over the place. We recalled our demonstrator into the house for further investigation. By now Wikipedia was in full use and we discovered the ‘little known property’ of triboluminescence which is a property that quartz has (as well as some other crystals like sugar and diamonds). Luminescence obviously meaning light but the tribo means rubbing. So we tried that next and sure enough a vigorous rub produced a lovely warm glow in the surface of the quartz stone. The more translucent the stone the better the effect. It is quite different from flint sparking and doesn’t seem to be a particularly hot light, just very pleasing. In a time when light in the dark would have been quiet special this must have been pretty impressive. It certainly got us excited even in these days of mega entertainment on tap. Try it if you can there is something slightly wonderful about it and it kept a gaggle of old farts in Cornwall happy for hours!

Winter delivery minimum orders
For the rest of the year and until sometime in February we are able to drop the minimum order quantity generally to 15 trays and possibly, at a push, to 12 trays if you are very local to Winchester. The range available will obviously slip away as most lines go into dormancy but we have a few lines to provide a bit of winter interest and colour, should you be looking for some hairy input.

Availability highlights
Autumn and winter flowering Cyclamen are looking great. The Cyclamen coum Cyberia series flower from now until April, showing short and dainty flowers and bud. There are still plenty of flowers on the remaining autumn/winter flowering hederifolium types. The Helleborus range is ready to roll as winter approaches, no bud yet but nice plants.  The Euphorbias are looking good as well, they will retain a good show of foliage through the winter months before bursting into flower in early spring. Another evergreen spring flowerer currently looking smart are the Bergenias in three varieties. Bright variegated leaves of the short tufted grass Carex Evergold are looking very neat and smart.

Wooden box returns
We have collected the majority of our wooden boxes up now but please do drop us a line if you would like us to pop in and collect any more up. We aren’t about quite as much now but you will be in our thoughts and on the list. Thanks.

Have a good week from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries.

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